Jellybeans for Breakfast

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My elementary kids recently participated in the school reflections contest, a contest which encourages children to create different types of art inspired by a common theme.  This year, the theme was “The world would be a better place if …” It was fascinating to see the different approaches my elementary students took.

My fourth-grader, Sam, designed a Lego car for the three-dimensional art category.  His artist caption explained that the world would be a better place if we were less oil dependent.

My third-grader, Grace, wrote a simple song called “showing kindness,” because the world would be a better place if people were more kind to one another.

When I asked my first-grader, Eve, what she thought would make the world a better place, she answered decidedly, “it would be a better place if we had jellybeans for breakfast.” I kind of prodded her to think a little deeper, but her mind was made up.  In the end, she painted a picture, took a photograph and wrote a song about her idea for betterment of the human race:  Jellybeans for Breakfast!

Eve's Jellybeans for Breakfast

Where did Eve get the idea that jellybeans could change the world?

Probably from me…

When I was in first grade I looked forward to library day each week at Jenny P. Stewart Elementary.  After Mrs. Roybal, the librarian, read our class a book, we were allowed to browse freely.  There was time to read and check out books.  I loved the feeling of the library.  I felt independent, like a grown up, choosing where I would go and what I would do … and being surrounded by lovely books.

Nearly every week that year, I went to the same shelf and picked up the same book.  Sometimes I would check it out and other times I would leave it for someone else, but I would read the book either way.  It was called Jellybeans for Breakfast. I still remember the story.  It was about a couple of little kids who imagined what they would do if they didn’t have the restrictions of everyday life.  They decided that they would go barefoot all the time and live in a tree house in the woods.  They would ride their bikes to the moon, and, of course, they would eat jellybeans for breakfast.

Jellybeans for breakfast cover

I loved the way this book made me feel.  Excited.  Hopeful.  Motivated.  It made me want to dream great dreams and to make my dreams come true.  And even though I never really ate jellybeans for breakfast, the idea of it gave me something to look forward to each week.

There is magic in having something to look forward to.  It makes it easy to get up in the morning.  It gives life and energy to each day.  It helps us feel a sense of purpose and progression.  Having something to look forward to just makes us “feel good.”  I think that is why holidays and traditions were invented, to integrate anticipation and expectancy into our lives.

Research shows that optimists are healthier and happier people.  And what is it that optimists do?  They have made a habit of looking forward to and expecting good things.  And if you make this habit, I guarantee it will change your life for the better.  The Savior himself was called the “high priest of good things to come” (Heb 9:11) and he taught us to live with hope.

Think of what your life would be like if you chose to focus on the upcoming delights in each day.  Jellybeans for breakfast. Hugs and kisses from your sweetheart.  Reading to your kids. Going for a walk.  A conversation with a friend.  An upcoming holiday.  Spending time with your family.  Think of the hope and faith and optimism and joy that would flow into your life if you focused your anticipation on such things.  Think of the good that could be accomplished by a world full of happy people living in the present with great expectations for the future.

So just maybe Eve was on to something when she declared the power of jellybeans for breakfast. But I am very sad to report that even with a Facebook group of 180 members devoted to it, the book Jellybeans for Breakfast has gone out of print.  Thank goodness we live in a world overflowing with other good things to anticipate and enjoy.

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    • Shawna MorrisseyShawna Morrissey says

      It would be a good litmus test for presidential candidates … “Would you or would you not support the eating of jellybeans for breakfast.” 😉

  1. Erin says

    Thank you for sharing! My best friend, Chadler, gave me his copy of Jellybeans for Breakfast in first grade. Grade school was a very lonely and traumatic time for me, but every day on the playground after lunch Chad and I would let our imaginations run wild. We built our make-believe world without bullies and snobs; fondue was served nightly for dinner and every morning began with jellybeans for breakfast.

    • Shawna MorrisseyShawna Morrissey says

      Wow! It sounds like the book had a HUGE impact on you as a child. I wonder if Miriam Young had any idea of the impact she had on so many.

  2. Katina says

    such a sweet tribute to this amazing, life-changing-for-so-many piece of art xoxo what a great article, i really enjoyed reading this xoxo thank you for your words <3 and for reading this book to "today's kids" <3

  3. Paula Ward says

    Just like that. Jellybeans for Breakfast and her mind was made up! Maybe it’s a first grader thing~~mine definitely holds tight to her opinions, too. Love those stubborn girls! : )

  4. Janel says

    Shawna I just love your blog posts! I have been “wasting” my afternoon reading over some I missed and others I enjoyed so much I read them again. You inspire me to be a better person and hope for good things in the future. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am so glad I met you way back when you were pregnant with your first daughter and managed to keep track of you through all of our moves since then. You really are an awesome woman! I haven’t seen you in person in over a decade— I would love to see you again someday!

    • AnitaAnita says

      When I read over your comment, a little too quickly I guess, I thought you said, “I haven’t seen you in prison in over a decade.” I thought there is more to Shawna than I ever realized! (She said she had moved to Washington D.C. I guess that was a lie. :)

      • Janel says

        Sometimes I read a bit too quickly myself and usually end up starting over…I guess I should just slow down to begin with. Oh well! Thanks for the laugh!

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